Physics in April 2010: life on Mars, the physics of art and jewellery, web 2.0 in physics education and the great unsolved mysteries of the universe

AIP President’s blog, Australian Institute of Physics

From Brian James, President of the Australian Institute of Physics

Welcome to my monthly email to people around the country with an interest in physics. It contains news and events for April 2010 and beyond.

This month’s AIP meetings include discussion of life on Mars, the physics of art and jewellery, web 2.0 in physics education and the great unsolved mysteries of the universe.

I congratulate AIP member Ben Eggleton and Alan Rogers who were both recently recognised with awards for their contributions to physics.

School students can win time on the Parkes radio telescope or the Gemini South telescope. And school teachers, students and anyone with an interest in physics may enjoy the amazing physics videos collated by Online Colleges.

Details of all of these, and more, below.

I welcome Andy Greentree to the AIP executive. Andy has been coopted as secretary to take over from Olivia Samardzic, who has been secretary as well as special officer in charge of awards. Olivia continues in the latter role.  The executive appreciates very much Olivia’s contributions and Andy’s willingness to take on the duties of secretary.

The AIP has a number of opportunities for members who are interested in contributing to the operation of the AIP at the national level. At present we are seeking a person to nominate for the Council of the Association of Asia-Pacific Physical Societies (AAPPS) – the AIP is one of around twenty member societies. If you wish to express interest in this position, or any other national position please contact me, preferably by Friday 9 April.

The draft national K-10 curricula in Maths and Science have been released for comment. Details can be found at The AIP’s Physics Education Group (PEG) is preparing a response. If you would like to contribute please send your comments to Katherine Legge ( ), by Friday 16 April.

If you want to contact me regarding AIP or other physics matters please email

If you have trouble reading the bulletin in this format, it’s also on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Please note that replies to this email go to Niall Byrne, Science in Public, whose team compiles and manages the bulletin on my behalf and handles corrections, updates and bounces. If you have news or other information for the bulletin please email Niall by the 23rd of each month.

Kind regards,

Brian James,

AIP President

In this bulletin:

1. AIP events across the country

2. AIP 2010 Congress

3. Paulo de Souza – new Australian Physics editor

4. Australian Gemini School Astronomy Contest

5. PULSE@Parkes observing slots – open for application

6. Scopus Young Researcher of the Year in Physical Sciences awarded to Ben Eggleton

7. 2010 Grote Reber Medal awarded to Alan Rogers

8. 100 Amazing physics videos

9. Science prizes

10. AIP Victorian Branch Education activities

11. Physics activities across the country – general

12. Physics activities across the country – seminars

13. Physics jobs

14. Physics conferences

15. Submission deadlines for the bulletin and journal

AIP events across the country

Australian Capital Territory

Wednesday 31 March, 7pm (refreshments from 6.30)

ACT branch meeting

TITLE: Greatest unsolved mysteries of the universe

SPEAKER: Paul Francis, Mount Stromlo Observatory and the Physics Education Centre, ANU

VENUE: Dunbar Physics Lecture Theatre (PHYS T), Building 39, Australian National University

Paul will discuss the greatest unsolved questions in modern astrophysics, such as: What is the universe made of? Where did the universe come from? and Is there life in space?

More info at the ACT AIP website

New South Wales

Tuesday 27 April, 5.30pm

NSW AIP branch meeting – two talks, Donald Lang at 5.30pm and Chris Stewart at 7pm

TITLE: Mr Tompkins goes to the races

SPEAKER: Donald Lang, Macquarie University

TITLE: “That’ll never work in my classroom”: Web 2.0 in physics education

SPEAKER: Chris Stewart, University of Sydney

VENUE: Slade Lecture Theatre, University of Sydney

For more information about the events please contact Frederick Osman on


Margaret Wegener: two talks to school students

All welcome, especially girls in years 10-12

TITLE: Physicist in the gallery: physics, art & jewellery

SPEAKER: Margaret Wegener, University of Queensland

DATE: Tuesday 20 April, 4pm

VENUE: St Aidan’s Anglican Girl’s School, Corinda

CONTACT:  John Wilkinson on for further info and RSVP

DATE: Thursday 22 April, 11.45am

VENUE: Lourdes Hill College, Hawthorne

CONTACT: Mark Young on or (07) 3896 6304 for further info and RSVP

More info at the AIP Qld website.

South Australia

Thursday 15 April, 8pm

Free public lecture

TITLE: Through Einstein’s eyes

SPEAKER: Craig Savage, Australian National University

VENUE: Napier 102, Napier building, University of Adelaide

“A storm broke loose in my mind” — Albert Einstein, on the year he discovered relativity.

What would happen if we could travel at near the speed of light? How would everyday objects appear if the speed of light was slowed down to a walking pace? Our roller-coaster ride through this strange world will challenge our conceptions of space and time. Join Craig as he views the world through Einstein’s eyes.

More info: phone (08) 8201 2093, (08) 8234 6112 (a.h.) or 0427 711 815 or email


Friday 16 April, 1pm

TITLE: Quest for life on Mars

SPEAKER: Paulo de Souza, CSIRO

VENUE: Launceston College Theatrette, Launceston

More info: Elizabeth Chelkowska on or (03) 6236 5575

Wednesday 21 April, 8pm

Public lecture

TITLE: Roving the Red Planet

SPEAKER: Paulo de Souza, CSIRO

VENUE: Physics Lecture Theatre 1, Physics, University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus

More info: Elizabeth Chelkowska on or (03) 6236 5575


Thursday 15 April, 6.30pm

TITLE: X-ray lasers – new tools for the very small and the very fast

SPEAKER: Keith A Nugent, Laureate Professor and ARC Federation Fellow, Research Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coherent X-ray Science, Melbourne University

VENUE: Old Geology Building, Melbourne University.

More info: Scott Wade on or (03) 9214 4339

AIP 2010 Congress

The 2010 AIP Congress will be in Melbourne this year from 5 to 9 December 2010.

The 50th anniversary of the laser will be a highlight. We will incorporate the 35th Australian Conference on Optical Fibre Technology and the Australian Optical Society Conference.

Plenary speakers extend the laser links further with Professor Margaret Murnane from the University of Colorado and Professor David Payne from the University of Southampton.

The call for papers opens on April 12. There will be a wide variety of physics streams including: atomic and molecular physics, environmental physics, nuclear and particle physics and plasma science.

More info at

More info on celebrating the laser at

Paulo de Souza – new Australian Physics editor

Paulo de Souza has now taken over as editor of Australian Physics. Paulo is a physicist with a PhD in natural sciences. He is the Research Director of Tasmanian ICT Centre at CSIRO and a collaborator scientist on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers Project. He has worked in industrial research centres in Brazil and Europe. He has received many international awards as a result of his research in industry. Paulo has written over 100 scientific papers, and co-authored a series of papers identified as ‘Breakthrough on the Year: 2004’ by the prestigious magazine Science.

Contact Paulo on with ideas for articles for Australian Physics.

And thanks again to the previous editor, John Daicopoulos, for his work over the last two years.

Australian Gemini School Astronomy Contest

High school students in Australia have a chance to use an hour of observing time on one of the world’s largest optical telescopes, the 8-metre Gemini South telescope in the Andes Mountains of Chile.

Details of the contest are at the Australian Gemini Office website. Entries close on Friday 7 May.

Last year the winning team’s entry made it onto the cover of Australian Sky & Telescope magazine.

PULSE@Parkes observing slots – open for application

CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science are now seeking applications from schools that wish to take part in a PULSE@Parkes observing slot from April to September 2010. There is one slot per month available for student exploration of pulsars under the guidance of professional astronomers using the Parkes radio telescope.

More info at the PULSE@Parkes website.

Apply online at:

If you have any further queries or wish to know more about the project contact Rob Hollow on

Scopus Young Researcher of the Year in Physical Sciences awarded to Ben Eggleton

Congratulations to AIP member Ben Eggleton, University of Sydney, who was awarded the inaugural Scopus Young Researcher of the Year in Physical Sciences for his work on photonics and optical science. The Scopus awards are judged on the impact of research papers and patents and measures of external impact and esteem.

The Hon. Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research presented the award at the Universities Australia Higher Education Conference gala dinner at Parliament House on Wednesday 3 March.

2010 Grote Reber Medal awarded to Alan Rogers

The 2010 Grote Reber Gold Medal for outstanding and innovative contributions to radio astronomy has been awarded to Alan Rogers for his many pioneering developments in radio and radar interferometry, radio spectroscopy, and for his application of radio astronomy techniques to society.

Alan is a Research Affiliate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Haystack Observatory best known for his contributions over many decades to the techniques of very long baseline interferometry. He will be presented with his medal in July 2010 in Hobart, Tasmania, at the annual meeting of the Astronomical Society of Australia.

100 Amazing physics videos

Online Colleges has posted a new page with links to 100 amazing videos for teaching and studying physics. From the Large Hadron Collider rap to Stephen Hawking on the universe, demonstrations of basic concepts to cutting-edge research, there are videos for everyone.

Science prizes

Please consider if you know people who would be appropriate candidates for the following science prizes.

2010 Victoria Prize and Fellowships

Victoria’s leading and emerging scientists, engineers and innovators are being encouraged to nominate for the Victorian Government’s 2009 Victoria Prize and Victoria Fellowships.

Follow links to the Victoria Prize and Victoria Fellowships.

Nominations close on 14 April 2010.

Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

John O’Sullivan freed the computer from its chains using his skills as an astronomer and engineer. He received the $300,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Science in 2009.

The two $50,000 early career prizes went to Michael Cowley for his work breaking the link between obesity and diabetes; and to Amanda Barnard for her virtual investigations of the properties of nanoparticles.

Nominations for the 2010 prizes close on 21 May. More information at

L’Oréal Australia For Women in Science Fellowships

Hundreds of women apply each year for one of three $20,000 L’Oréal Australia Fellowships For Women in Science, perhaps because the Fellowship can be spent on any research-related expense, including child care.

In 2009 the recipients were exploring our roots in Africa, looking for dark energy and revealing what really controls our genes.

Nominations will open in April 2010. More information at

World Metrology Day Awards – Barry Inglis Award and NMI Prize

In recognition of World Metrology Day, which occurs on 20 May each year, Australia’s National Measurement Institute (NMI) is presenting two awards for outstanding achievement in measurement:

  • The Barry Inglis Medal will be awarded for major contributions to measurement science and technology through leadership or outstanding innovation.
  • The NMI Prize will be awarded to young Australians who have shown originality or excellence in the application of measurement techniques.

The recipients of the awards will be announced on World Metrology Day 2010, with the awards ceremony held in the second half of 2010.

Applications close on 31 March 2010.

For further information, contact Intending applicants should refer to the information package available from NMI’s website at

Eureka Prizes

The annual Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in the fields of scientific research & innovation, science leadership, school science and science journalism & communication.

There are 19 awards across these categories. You can enter yourself or nominate someone else.

Entries close on Friday 7 May and the winners will be announced on Tuesday 17 August.

For more information, go to the Eureka Prize website.

AIP Victorian Branch Education activities

Dan O’Keeffe of the AIP Vic Education Branch circulates a regular newsletter for physics teachers – contact him on

Vic AIP Education Committee

The Victorian AIP Education Committee usually meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 5-7pm. The next meeting is on Tuesday 20 April. All teachers are welcome to attend.

VENUE: Kew High School

If you would like to attend, contact the Chair, Sue Grant, at

Melbourne University talks for VCE physics students

The topics are relevant to the VCE Study Design, and practising physicists have agreed to deliver them. The lectures, of about 1 hour duration, will be held on Thursdays at 6 pm in the Laby Theatre of the School of Physics. Some light refreshments will be available.

Semester 1 talks are:

Date Title Unit
April 15 Lachlan Thompson: What comes up, might come down…Bernoulli VCE Unit 2, study 3.4
April 29 David Jamieson: Relatively moving. Einstein’s special relativity VCE Unit 3, study 3.1
May 13 Energy from the nucleus VCE Unit 1, study 3.3
May 27 Physics and medical diagnosis VCE Unit 1, study 3.6

More information at the University of Melbourne’s Physics outreach website.

Physics activities across the country – general


Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University, public lectures

The Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing holds regular free public lectures on the Hawthorn campus (usually in room EN313) at 6.30pm. More info here. Bookings are essential – contact Elizabeth Thackray at or phone (03) 9214 5569.

Date Speaker Title
16 April Emma Ryan-Weber, Swinburne University The cosmic dark ages
21 May Warrick Couch, Swinburne University Next generation telescopes
18 June Stuart Wyithe, Melbourne University The dark ages of the universe (room EN515)

Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University, school holiday activities

CAS runs public AstroTours during the Easter, winter, spring and summer school holidays. Sessions will feature the 3D movies “Bigger Than Big” and “Extreme Places”, made by the highly talented Swinburne Astronomy Productions team.

Public AstroTours are suitable for adults and children over seven years of age. Due to limited seating, bookings are essential! The tour costs $10 per person. More info here. Bookings are essential – contact Elizabeth Thackray at or phone (03) 9214 5569.

Western Australia

Gingin Observatory, Gingin

Gingin Observatory runs a variety of public events, many suitable for families, as well as regular stargazing tours. More info is available at the Observatory website or by contacting Carol Redford or Donna Vanzetti on (08) 9575 7740 or Contact Carol or Donna to book into events.

The Gravity Discovery Centre is open every day of the school holidays, except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Special events include the following:

Date Time Event
11 April 7-9.30pm Zadko Stargazing night
4 April 7-9.30pm Cancer Zodiac stargazing
7 & 14 April 6-9pm Night safaris

Physics activities across the country – seminars

Check the institution websites for any updates.

New South Wales

School of Physics, University of NSW

The School of Physics holds regular colloquia on Tuesdays at 4-5pm in the School of Physics Common Room, Room 64, Old Main Building, University of NSW. More info here or contact Peter Reece on or (02) 9385 5929.

Date Speaker Title
13 April Les G. I. Bennett, Royal Military College of Canada Application of neutron radiography on the SLOWPOKE-2 at RMC to aircraft structures

School of Physics, University of Sydney

The School of Physics holds regular colloquia on Mondays at 3.15pm (refreshments from 3pm) in the Slade Lecture Theatre, School of Physics A28, University of Sydney. More info here or contact Bruce Yabsley (02) 9351 5970 or

Date Speaker Title
12 April Terry M. Peters, Medical Imaging, University of Western Ontario Physics in imaging: from radio astronomy to image-guided medical interventions

Australian Telescope National Facility

The Australian Telescope National Facility holds regular colloquia on Wednesdays at 3.30pm (coffee at 3.15pm) in the ATNF Marsfield Lecture Theatre. More info here or contact Bjorn Emonts on or (02) 9372 4368.

Date Speaker Title
21 April Natasa Vranesevic Galactic distribution and evolution of pulsars
16 June Volker Heesen Magnetic fields in galaxies


Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University

The Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing holds regular colloquia, usually on Thursdays at 11.30am, in the Swinburne Virtual Reality Theatre (AR Building, Room 104). More info here or Jonathon Kocz on

Date Speaker Title
15 April Geoff Clayton, Louisiana State University, USA The evolutionary history of the R Coronae Borealis stars
22 April Chris Conselice, University of Nottingham, UK TBA
29 April Rosemary Mardling, Monash University TBA
11 May Paola Meluzzi, INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy ACCESS: A Complete CEnsus of Star-formation and nuclear activity in the Shapley Supercluster


Physics Department, University of Queensland

The Physics Department holds regular colloquia on Fridays at 4pm (refreshments from 3.30pm) in the Parnell Building Room 222, University of Queensland. More info here or

Date Speaker Title
16 April Jenny Riesz, ROAM Consulting From physics to the UN Copenhagen meeting
23 April Joel Gilmore TBA

Western Australia

School of Physics, University of Western Australia

The School of Physics holds regular seminars on Tuesdays at 3.30-4.30pm in the Physics Lecture Room 2.15, Physics Building, University of WA. More info here or contact Gay Hollister on or (08) 6488 2738.

Date Speaker Title
30 March John Hartnett, University of Western Australia Latest advances in cryogenic sapphire oscillators
15 April Vladimir Bazhanov, Australian National University Quantum geometry of 3-dimensional lattices

Physics jobs

The School of Physics, Monash University, is advertising two Level B lectureships in Experimental Condensed Matter Physics. They are continuing appointments based at the Clayton campus.

Go to for position details and application information (Ref. no A1010606). Enquiries to Michael Morgan on (03) 9905 3645 or

Also, remember that you can look for physics jobs on brightrecruits, the jobs website from IOP Publishing, and you can post jobs on the AIP Linked In or Facebook sites.

Physics conferences

3rd Chaotic Modeling and Simulation International Conference (CHAOS2010)

Chania, Crete, Greece

01/06/2010 – 04/06/2010

Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting

Taipei, Taiwan

22/06/2010 – 25/06/2010

Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s National Convention (RACI 2010) and the 12th International Congress of Pesticide Chemistry (IUPAC 2010)

Melbourne, Victoria

04/07/1010 – 08/07/2010

Astronomical Society of Australia Annual Science Meeting

Hobart, Tasmania

05/07/2010 – 08/07/2010

Early bird registration until 2 May, final registration 1 June

52nd International Field Emission Symposium (IFES2010)

Crowne Plaza, Coogee Beach, Sydney, NSW

05/08/2010 – 08/08/2010

Early bird registration by 10 May 2010.

9th International Conference on Excitonic and Photonic Processes in Condensed and Nano Materials (EXCON’10)

Brisbane, Queensland

11/07/2010 – 16/07/2010

Statphys 24

Cairns, Queensland

19/07/2010 – 23/07/2010

NEW 22nd International Conference on Atomic Physics (ICAP2010)

Cairns, Queensland

25/07/2010 – 30/07/2010

20th International Congress on Acoustics (ICA 2010)

Sydney, Australia

23/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

Early registration before 28 May 2010

2010 AIP Congress

Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, Vic

05/12/2010 – 9/12/2010 [note minor change of date]

Call for papers opens on 12 April 2010

XXV International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) General Assembly

Earth on the Edge: Science for a Sustainable Planet

Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, Vic

28/06/2011 – 07/07/2011

Register your expression of interest on the website to receive updates

Submission deadlines for the bulletin and journal

Our next bulletin, to be sent out at the end of April, will cover events in May 2010. We welcome contributions about activities, conferences and announcements. Our next submission deadline is Friday 23 April. Please send your submissions to Niall or Margie Beilharz from Science in Public on or call (03) 9398 1416.

And the AIP’s journal, Australian Physics, welcomes your articles. The deadline for the next issue is 15 April. Email your articles and ideas to the editor, Paulo De Souza on


For more information on physics events visit and click on ‘physics events’ or on your state branch.

If you know of anyone who would like to receive these updates, please feel free to forward this to them.

Kind regards,



Assoc. Prof. Brian James

President of the Australian Institute of Physics

Phone: +61 (2) 9351-2471